The fireworks go up in a sharp whine. Can you remember the crowd and the bad band whose lead singer looked like a Dad in a Hawaiian shirt?

When I was little we sat too close to the water and a spark fell in my eye. Now I’m not blind but I see a lot of those squiggly things when I look too quickly to my right.

When I was old I walked to the park by myself, because no one else wanted to. In a big black jacket that was too big. I felt like one of those toys that comes out of the vending machine as an egg and you can unfold a little dinosaur or something from it.

Can you remember being a Dad in a Hawaiian shirt, playing to the largest audience of your life now that it doesn’t matter? Did it seem cruel at all? Especially with the fireworks.

The fireworks go up in a sharp hiss. And on the mezzanine skateboarders are pivoting between the blankets –the families– thrown out with precision.

It doesn’t matter if they explode, they always explode. They are always exploding.

Hell who knows if not here in New Jersey then some form of it in Afghanistan. Remember being an Afghani man lifting his robes to take a shit near a bombed out hut?

I’ve heard the cluster bombs balls are still buried everywhere. The leftovers are the worst, because at that point you aren’t even in the fighting frame of mind, life is normal and then you step on the wrong rock.

It doesn’t matter that it explodes. You do your best to stay together, and that’s probably what makes it hurt.

Does it seem cruel? Near the ready crops to boot?

The fireworks go up in silence, and they’re lights at some metallic Korean night club. The owner has arranged a stage of ledges where girls can get up and dance, and you might catch a good angle.

But they’re racist, or we’re racist. Guys are puking in the corner, near your seat. Guys are walking home and you’re smoking cigarettes faster than the rest of us can make ’em.

I’m not in any rush to find out what the inside of my lungs look like, or what else has caked up. That would be cruel, and unrealistic.

I remember two other things from the night we ran past the cranberry bog and fell into a pile of mulch. One was all of the drunk sorority girls singing Kelly Clarkson in the DD’s Kia as it made the roundabout. The other was the hum of the library’s generators dying out over the bog.

It doesn’t matter that it explodes.
It’s the hiss that counts. The whine.

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